LifeSteps Financial Briefing | February 2019
Henry's Take
Can you believe that January has already flown by and we are well into February? We’ve been busy connecting with clients to discuss the results of 2018 and shifts that we suggest for 2019. The swings were challenging in 2018 and we predict continued volatility for 2019 – the new normal. While all signs point to the economy roaring forward, investor and consumer concerns have tempered taking aggressive positions. As a result, we are going to focus our commentary for 2019 on just that: Bridging the New Normal: Volatility and Financial Wellness.
We spent a lot of time in January having conversations with clients about more than just investment portfolios. We provided advice, support and reminders on areas that are adjacent to financial planning, yet important. This month, our conversations lead with making updates to Estate Plans.
As always, we are here to answer questions and provide insight. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on changes in the financial and investment landscape.
Henry Ford, Principal
Managing Financial Wellness
Estate Plans are Living Documents

It is important for the financial wellness of an individual, family or business, for that matter, that the Estate or Business plan be revisited at least annually. A lot goes on over the course of a year. It may seem to go by slowly, but the dynamics are always changing the landscape of finances. Whether buying a new home, renting out property or welcoming a new son-in-law or grandchild into the family, our lives are constantly changing.
While change is usually good, one “small” change can have a ripple effect in other areas of our lives. One area is the Estate Plan. Many people think that by having an Estate Plan all signed and sealed, their legacy is wrapped up until a catastrophe hits. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that an estate plan provides guidance in managing your wishes and legacy. But, it was established at one moment in time. As time goes on, so do the decisions you make and events you experience. And, as time goes on, we tend to change our minds.
The Facts

?The federal estate tax exemption is $11.18 million per individual for 2018 deaths, i.e., a married couple would be able to shelter $22.36 million from federal estate and gift taxes. The amount is more than double the exemption from 2017 due to changes from the “ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ” legislation.
Source: IRS
Used with permission
from By the Numbers

The longest US government shutdown ended Friday 1/25/19 at 35 days . The second longest shutdown lasted 21 days , ending on 1/06/96. In the 6 months following the 21-day shutdown, the S&P 500 gained +6.6% .

Source: BTN Research
Used with permission
?from By the Numbers   

An estimated 2.8 million Americans died in 2018. Of the 2.8 million deaths, an estimated 4,000 of those deceased individuals (i.e., 1 in every 700 deaths) died with an estate worth more $11.2 million , the maximum dollar amount that can be passed estate tax-free per decedent wi th proper tax planning .

Source: Tax Policy Center
Used with permission
from By the Numbers   
There are two basic philosophies for analyzing the stock market. One is fundamental analysis and the other is technical analysis. Fundamental analysis looks at the economic and financial factors that influence a business (financial statements, future projections, etc.). Technical analysis, on the other hand, examines the price movement of a security. 
Technical analysis looks at the price trends (or directions) that a security has taken. The thinking is that prices move in a pattern and that the pattern can be charted and trends will appear that help analysts decide on future investments. These charts can look at a variety of statistics. Examples are candlestick charts (measuring high and low prices each day), point and figure charts and support and resistance charts, to name just a few.

?The goal of technical analysis is to find trends (upward, downward or even moving sideways) and to use that information to work with the trends, not against them.
Giving Back
This month's featured charitable organization is  Children's Fund .

LifeSteps Financial was proud to host a table at the English Team in January 31 st , hosted by the Claremont/West End Auxiliary of Children’s Fund. It was a lovely event for a wonderful cause. Despite the pouring rain, spirits were high and the tea was terrific!

Since its inception in 1986, Children's Fund has assisted more than 1.4 million children. Children's Fund serves as a safety net for the at-risk children in local communities. They are positioned to leverage donations to help provide vulnerable children with essential services and resources.